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The problem of a DUI record in an "information age"

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Vaughan de Kirby
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That we now live in an “information age” is something we’ve all heard. Aside from the obvious fact that technology is getting more advanced and more widespread, it’s not always clear what this oft-repeated phrase actually means. It’s not always clear what kind of “information” we’re talking about.

What can sound like an airy abstraction, in reality, refers to a very real state of affairs. Think, for example, of the growing importance of a person’s credit score. A credit score is a bit of information that can have a tremendous impact on a person’s opportunities and quality of life. Companies are making a great deal of money helping clients improve their credit scores, and people are happy to pay.

Living in an “information age” means that our standing in society—our freedom, opportunities, and quality of life—is to a great extent determined by certain pieces of information about each of us. Our medical records can determine whether we get insurance; our credit score can decide whether we receive a much-needed loan. Reducing a person’s life—or, to put it another way, reducing a person’s character and reliability—to a few numbers or bits of information is a marvelous way to increase efficiency in making the kinds of decisions that employers, insurance providers, and banks have to make. The costs, however, are high, especially to those whose records are unfairly blemished. 

And there is no mark more damaging, more limiting, than a criminal record. A criminal record—even if it’s just an arrest record for a DUI, without a conviction—can mean that a person is permanently treated like a criminal. And criminals, it should go without saying, have a hard time finding jobs and getting loans.

Living in an information age has tremendous advantages. But it is important that people have the resources to ensure that their records do not mean a life sentence. But this isn’t something that most people can do alone, nor should they have to. If you’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI, whether you’ve been convicted or not, it’s important that you talk to an expert about getting your record expunged. As minor as it may eventually seem once time has passed, it is impossible to anticipate when your record will eventually reemerge and the effect it will have. Expunging your record is not only a guarantee that your past doesn’t determine your future, but is one of the best ways of giving yourself some closure. It is the best way, in every sense, of putting your DUI behind you.

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